AOB, New Direction Gospel Choir perform at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture; band set to release gospel album

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands (AOB) and award-winning New Direction Gospel Choir were invited to perform at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans, Louisiana, sponsored by a partnership with McDonalds, highlighting African American culture.

Grammy nominated gospel singer Jekayln Carr and TSU New Direction Gospel Choir performs at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture. (Photo: Jenai Hayes)

AOB, New Direction Gospel Choir and The Sophisticated Ladies led three spectacular performances during the festival, one of which the University band debuted their new single “Dance Revival” featuring Grammy nominated gospel singer Jekayln Carr and the choir.

There were more than 1,000 festival participants in total watching the magic unfold.

AOB debuts their new single ‘Dance Revival,’ at the Essence Festival and are set to release a gospel album titled ‘Urban Hymnal.’ (Photo: submitted)

“Having an opportunity to premiere our original music at the Essence Festival is monumental for the AOB as well as the HBCU Band community at large,” said Dr. Larry Jenkins the Assistant Director of TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands.

Reginald McDonald, AOB director said the band will be seen in more unimaginable places.

TSU drum major, trumpet soloist Curtis Olawumi said his first time in New Orleans was a once in a lifetime experience as he met and spoke with his favorite trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, when leaving rehearsal.

Actress Tisha Campbell watched AOB and The Sophisticated Ladies rehearse behind the scene at Essence Fest 2022.

“That was the pivotal moment for me,” Olawumi said, noting that the pair talked about music and took photos. “Being able to perform on stage next to Jekayln Carr was a thrill,” he said. “I enjoyed myself and cherished every moment.”

AOB is set to release a gospel album titled ‘Urban Hymnal,’ primarily produced by AOB assistant director Professor Larry Jenkins and two-time Grammy award-nominated writer Sir the Baptist.

Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin is the executive producer of the album while it also features production from platinum recording artist, TSU alum Aaron (Dubba-AA) Lockhart.

Justin Butler, TSU New Direction Gospel Choir director described the experience of performing at the festival and being featured on AOB’s upcoming album as, ‘pretty amazing.’

TSU drum major Curtis Olawumi, right, met his all-time favorite trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, left, at Essence Fest while leaving rehearsal. (Photo: Submitted)

“We were blown away to be asked to be a part of this,” Butler said, mentioning that the choir recorded their portion of Dance Revival right on campus.

 “I can’t wait for the world to hear this,” he said.

The album release date has not been disclosed as of July, but will include features from known artist and singers such as Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, John P. Kee, Jekalyn Carr, Louis York, Dubba-AA, Take 6 and more.

Department of Media Relations

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